Qu'est-ce que c'est
"Psycho"Directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1960)
The twist ending to "Psycho" is so famous, it's no longer a surprise. "Psycho" is on a short list of films that most people seeing it for the first time, go into it knowing exactly what to expect. We already know that Soylent Green is people. We already know that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. We already know that Norman Bates is his mother.
So, why do we watch "Psycho" if we already know this? Why do we re-watch "Psycho" for that matter? For those who may be viewing it for the first time, it's a right of passage. If you love horror films, you may feel like you haven't earned your membership into the horror club if you haven't seen the classics. Once you see for yourself how brilliant the film is, you want to re-experience this work of art.
"Psycho" is so perfectly crafted, that it would be hard to mess it up if you tried to re-stage it. If you follow the blueprints that is Joseph Stefano's screenplay and Alfred Hitchcock's direction, you could reenact horror elegance. This point could not be made without bringing up Gus Van Sant's 90's remake. This film is so hated for all the wrong reasons. Defending this remake is an uphill battle. Society has already decided that this remake should not be enjoyed by anyone. I believe that people are so protective of the original film, that it makes it impossible for anyone to like the remake without tremendous guilt. Get this. I like the remake. I like the original better, but that's not the point. The point is, if something is perfect to begin with, it's hard to mess it up, if you retrace the steps set forth by the original film's path.
Why would anyone need to watch this film, if it's exactly the same? For me the answer is simple: The performance of the cast. It is the opportunity to see different actors perform the material. I do believe that no one will ever be able to touch Anthony Perkins' performance of Norman Bates. For me, Vince Vaughn doesn't bring much to the role. However, it is my opinion that the rest of the performances in the 1960s version of "Psycho" feel dated, yet I don't think the written material does. Case in point, I would argue that William H. Macy is better in the role of Milton Arbogast, than Martin Balsam.
If you remade this film over and over again, it could be an amazing opportunity to see different talented actors perform the different parts. Being that Norman Bates is the dream role to have, it's fun for me to daydream of the actors that I think could bring something special to the role. I imagine Norman played by a young Crispin Glover, Eric Stoltz, Jake Gyllenhaal and Kyle MacLachlan.That's not where I want it to end though. I want to see "Psycho" done as a play. I would love to see the Bates Motel on a stage. The taxidermy den would be supremely creepy in person. Not only would I love to see a professional play of "Psycho" but I would love to see it done as a high school play. Imagine some teenage boy taking all of his awkward teenage energy and cramming it into an old woman's dress.
Maybe I come across as a little psycho myself, but as much as I respect and love the 1960 masterpiece that is "Psycho", I am not so highfalutin that I don't also love "Psycho II" and even the sleazy "Psycho III"!
(Artwork by Isaac Keith Martinez)